Paul Archambault, Northampton Priest Who Committed Suicide, Named As Sex Abuser in Law Suit
By Fred Contrada
July 11, 2013
|Hampden police carry the casket at the Rev. Paul Archambault's funeral.|
The Rev. Paul Archambault, whose suicide in 2011 drew crowds of mourners to his funeral Mass in Northampton, has been named in a lawsuit alleging he sexually abused a boy beginning when the boy was 13.
The plaintiff, a Chesterfield man who is now 20, said in the complaint that Archambault cultivated his friendship while the priest was assigned to St. Patrickís Parish in Chicopee and sexually assaulted him for nearly four years in multiple locations, including the parish, a shrine to the Virgin Mary in Vermont and the Northampton home of the priestís father. The alleged victim is not identified in the filing.
Archambault shot himself in the head in July of 2011 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish rectory in Springfield. His body was found after he failed to appear for Sunday Mass at St. Mary's Church in Hampden.
He had served as the chaplain for the Hampden Police Department. Officers from that department carried his casket out of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton at the end of his funeral.
Archambault was also the chaplain at Baystate Medical Center. Some 50 priests and deacons and a color guard from the Knights of Columbus attended his funeral Mass, which was presided over by The Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
McDonnell and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield were named as defendants in the suit, which alleges they were negligent in allowing Archambault to sexually assault the defendant more than 50 times over the period of four years.
Also named as a defendant is "Father R," the pastor at St. Patrick who was known to the congregation as "Father Rick." According to records, the Rev. Richard M. Turner was pastor of St. Patrickís during that time. He could not be reached Thursday.
In his original complaint, filed Wednesday, Greenfield attorney John Stobierski misstated the name of the priest who allegedly committed the assaults.
Mark Dupont, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, criticized Stobierski for being "careless" in filing the suit.
Dupont said it was "simply egregious" for "Stobierski to have been so careless in rushing to file this suit without getting even the most basic facts correct. These are extremely serious matters and one would hope he might be more careful and diligent in preparing such complaints."
He said the diocese had received "neither the incorrect nor corrected versions" of the suit.
"However, in light of today's events, and the fact Fr. Archambault is deceased, we will withhold further comment and await the actual and correct civil action to review carefully," he said.
Archambaultís suicide shocked the local Catholic community, which was at a loss to explain it. In his eulogy, the Rev. John Lessard, Archambault's long-time friend, said the late priest was "a victim of terrible bullying all his life."
"He never fit in," said Lessard, who heard Archambault's confessions in addition to their long personal talks. "Paul had come to believe the lie that he was not accepted because he was unacceptable."
Lessard called Archambault a "wounded healer" who gave comfort to others despite his depression.
"What you saw of Father Paul was absolutely real," Lessard said. "It was as real as it gets."